Important tips for buying your first car article

Once you pass your test and get a driver’s license, you’ll probably start thinking about buying your first car. Purchasing a car is a big financial step—probably the largest you’ve considered taking thus far. Young adults should think carefully about all of the ramifications of car ownership before determining whether owning a car is right for them.

First, consider how much you can afford to spend on a car. For many young adults, a used car is their best option. Keep in mind that the price for the actual vehicle is just part of the overall cost of car ownership – you’ll also have to factor in insurance costs, gasoline, routine maintenance, and any repairs that may eventually be required.

When purchasing a used car, do your research in advance so that you know exactly what you are buying. Purchase a history report using the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number), and ask to have the car inspected by a mechanic. It’s always a good idea to buy a used car from a trusted person, so let your friends and family know that you are looking for a car. Even if they aren’t selling one, they may know of someone reputable who is.

When choosing the type of car you want to buy, do research so that you buy the right car for you. Read reviews and find out if the car you are interested in has any history of mechanical problems. Keep in mind while stylish cars look nice, your best option may be a car that is more functional.

If you need to obtain a car loan to purchase the car, make sure you have established a personal credit history before doing so. Many lenders won’t give a car loan to someone with untested credit, so one option is to have a credit card with an established history of on time payments. In addition, you’ll also need to have some form of income. If you are planning to get a car loan, you should have a good amount of savings first, so that you can put down a large down payment.

Car insurance for young adults can be expensive, so shop around for the best deal. It may be possible to add your car to your parents’ policy. Also, ask about discounts that may be available, such as a good student discount. 

Finally, once you’ve purchased your car, keep up to date with routine maintenance, such as oil changes. Skipping required routine maintenance is bad for your car and may cost you more money in the long run. Also, keep some savings available so that you are able to pay for any necessary car repairs.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.